Thursday, June 29, 2006

Government claims VA laptop with 26 million vets personal information has been recovered

According to an Associated Press (AP) story this morning at My Way News, the government claims that a laptop with sensitive information on its harddrive stolen from a home of a Veterans Affairs (VA) analyst on May 3rd. has been recovered. The stolen harddrive contained information on 26.5 million vets' social security numbers, dates of birth, and other identity theft capable information. Details regarding the recovery of the laptop and the identity of the suspects have not yet been released.
According to Secretary Nicolson, "There is reason to be optimistic," he told reporters just before the start of another in a series of hearings Congress has had on one of the worst breaches of information security. "It's a very positive note in this very tragic incident..."
For the AP story: Government Says Stolen VA Laptop Recovered

On a positive note:

The initial loss of personal information brought to the forefront a growing national problem of identity theft and some steps the consumer may want to consider. Fortunately, existing laws indicate that YOU (the consumer or victim of identity theft) has the right to ask that nationwide consumer reporting agencies place “fraud alerts” in your file to let potential creditors and others know that you may be a victim of identity theft. Of course there is a charge for that protection and depending on who looses the information and if the person or organization that looses the information will step up to the plate and be responsible, you may have to pay for the fraud alert service.

A fraud alert can make it more difficult for someone to get credit in your name because it tells creditors to follow certain procedures to protect you. Of course, it also may delay your ability to obtain credit, a small price to pay for the damage it will cause if the information falls into the wrong hands. Individually, one may place a fraud alert in ones file by calling just one of the three nationwide consumer reporting agencies. As soon as that agency processes the fraud alert, it will notify the other two, which then also must place fraud alerts in the consumer's file.
An initial fraud alert will stay in your file for at least 90 days. You may file an extended alert which will stay in your file for one year or seven years. To place the 90 day, one year, or seven year alert, the consumer reporting agency will require you to provide appropriate proof of your identity, which may include your Social Security number. If you ask for an extended alert, you will have to provide an identity theft report.

The identity theft report includes a copy of a report you have filed with a federal, state, or local law enforcement agency, and additional information a consumer reporting agency may require you to submit.

For more detailed information about the identity theft report, visit www.consumer.gov/idtheft

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